Monday, August 19, 2013

Disney 2013 Day #6

Okay, so really it was only Day #6 in California, but my mom and Whitney went to California Adventure to use the last day of their passes.

It killed me to know that they went and I wasn't there.  I even tried to add an extra day to our passes the night before, but I guess that's not allowed anymore: to add at 6th day to a pass.  But the ticket guy did try to give me the hard sell on upgrading to an annual pass... Tempting, as always.  But no.

Robert did not end up going with them as he was dealing with some car trouble and wanted to get it straightened out before the drive home the next day.  This was while my mom and Whitney were in Cars Land.  The irony was not lost on me.

I was shocked that my mom went on Tower of Terror for a second time, since she was super nervous when she got on the first time, and shaking when she got off, but I did enjoy the proof of the second ride:

The rest of us ventured over to Downtown Disney.  We had beignets for lunch and the headed over to the Grand Californian lobby where they had Disney cartoons and kid sized rocking chairs.

I'd heard of this, but we'd never taken the time to go over and find them and hang out before.

Then we stopped by the Lego Store in Downtown Disney.  They have all kinds of Disney characters made completely out of legos!  I was pretty impressed with that, but Jackson was more interested in the play lego tables set up outside, and Hayley was pretty into the build-and-race-your-own-lego-car station.

We ended our last day with some pool time and relaxing at the hotel, and headed to the airport the next morning to board our stand-by flight home.  (The whole flying stand-by with two kids thing is *so* much easier with *both* parents there!)  See you next time Disneyland!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Disney 2013 Day #5 All Together Now!

Finally, on the last day of Hayley, Jackson, Jeremy and my passes, we got everyone together at the same park at the same time.  Woohoo!

Pictures in front of the castle... Check!

Loving the PhotoPass+ for getting a great picture of all of us in front of the castle, but also because we get to enjoy all of the funny faces all of us make in the ride photos.  Case in point:

Every single time I look at that one I have to laugh.  Every person's face in it just cracks me up.  Although, Jeremy looking like he's meditating or saying a prayer in this one is pretty funny too:

One thing I did realize about the PhotoPass+ though is that it is worth it to ask to wait a little longer and sit in the front, since you know you are going to get the picture.  I did have to practice some creative editing to eliminate strangers from our photos when I could.  I'm bummed that I sat Jackson on the wrong side of me on Splash Mountain.  I would have loved to have seen his face on that big hill!  Next time...

Jeremy rode the teacups with Hayley, because I do not do teacups.  Ugh.  Even thinking about them makes me nauseous.  They sure had fun though!

It was lots nicer when Jackson would do things like this in line:

Instead of this.

Don't let his darling face fool you.  This look was accompanied by, "Pick me up please?"  "You will pick me up now, please?" "Time to pick me up now, please?" To which I can say, "No, you are a big boy, you can walk." But he hears, "You better go ask Grandma." Yeah, he's got her wrapped around his finger, I'll tell you what!

Grandma and Grandpa saved us spot for the parade (actually two) here at Disneyland too.  Some of us sat at the curb, while the rest of us sat on a coveted bench that still had a full view of the parade.

Everyone was pretty done after the parade, so we did our last bit of shopping, and said goodbye to the Happiest Place on Earth.  See you (hopefully) soon!

Disney 2013 Day #4 California Adventure

By then next morning, I think our three days at Disney were starting to catch up with us.  We slept in and missed opening time for both of the parks.  Once we were up, we were still kind of dragging, but Jeremy was ready and rarin' to go.  It always makes me excited to see him excited to go to Disney, so I hustled and bustled to get the kids and myself ready to go, and then we headed over to the parks.  My mom, Robert, and Whit were still chillin' so we told them to call us when they were headed over.  They actually didn't ever come over, which meant we had a whole day with just our little family.  It turned out to be a really great time.

Jeremy let Hayley make a lot of the decisions for the day, which she loved.  She decided she wanted to go to California Adventure for the day, and she for sure wanted to go on Radiator Springs Racers.  This proved to be tricky since Fast Passes were gone for the day.  She still really, really wanted to go, so we headed over the the two hour line. :( As soon as they measured Jackson at the start of the line, he knew what was up.  He started clinging/crying/screaming that he didn't want to go, at which point I looked at Jeremy with my "Oh, hell no am I doing this for two hours!"  So instead, Jackson and I got out of line, and got a Rider Switch Pass for myself and one other person (Hayley) to ride later.  This proved to be pretty par for the course for the rest of the day for a lot of the bigger rides: Hayley and Jeremy ride, get a switch pass, later Hayley and I ride. 

They made it through the line, and had fun on Radiator Springs.  While they rode, Jackson and I got an ice cream cone, and then tried to watch the Mickey and the Newsboys (think Newsies) show, but there were too many people in front of us and we couldn't see.  I was bummed, until I looked over and saw this:

This old sweeper guy was just jammin' away to the music!  And then when the song was done, he just went right back to doing his job.  So fun!

Another Rider Switch, and Hayley and Jeremy rode Tower of Terror...

 Jackson and I went to see Donald.

And then while they rode California Screamin'...

We visited with Duffy the Disney Bear.

Jackson seemed plenty happy with not having to go on as many rides.

Hayley got some Magic Shots with our PhotoPass+:
(They added the Stitch in later)

And best of all, we got some great family shots of all of us:

I love this cute little family of mine so much!

We ended up back in Cars Land (so Hayley and I could use the Rider Switch Pass from earlier) right as it was getting dark and they turned all the lights on.  It was just like in the movie.

And Jeremy the Super Navigator found the back way out of Cars Land, with a PhotoPass photographer all ready to take our picture with the Cars Land rocks in the background.

I sure love this guy.  What a great way to celebrate a little longer than 10 yeas of marriage. :)

Jeremy did have a mission though, with his shortcut out of Cars Land...

Because he thinks Disney isn't Disney until you've eaten a hunk of meat as big as your head!

It was such a perfect day, one that we will never forget!

Disney 2013 Day #3 Disneyland

The only complaint that I had about our free "make-up" breakfast was that they could only do it during a time slot that wasn't fully booked.  This meant we could either go at 7:00 or 11:00.  Since my kids had been getting up so early every day of vacation anyway, I chose the 7:00.  That proved to be just too early for my mom and Whitney, and it ended up being just the three of us.

It was actually really fun to have some two-on-one time with my kids.

And since we were the first family there, they also got some one-on-one time with Mickey.

The rest of the characters came around to our table.

I don't know if it was because we were one of the only families there, or if everyone was given a heads up that we were coming to make up for a sub-par experience (or if my kids are just irresistably cute) but it seemed we got a lot of attention. :)

And we got to see/participate in the show:

We got done just in time to meet my mom and Whitney at the gates to Disneyland.

Photo shot in front of the flowers: Check!

This day proved to be a good day for seeing characters we hadn't seen before.

And the "bad guys" always seem to be in character.
Cruella DeVille was no exception.

We also saw Mulan, who had been on our List of Characters We Haven't Met for a long time.  She was in a hurry (I think to get to the new Mickey and the Magical Map show that she is in.  It's darling by the way.) so we didn't get an autograph, just a quick picture with her as she was walking.

By the end of Day #3 some of us were pretty tuckered out, so we ate a late lunch/early dinner at a yummy Mexican place in Frontierland, went back to the hotel, and then I went out to Long Beach that evening to pick up Jeremy and Robert from their scuba diving extravaganza.

Disney 2013 Day #2 California Adventure

Before breakfast we had stopped by California Adventure to pick up FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers.  It was pretty perfect timing that our window opened just as we were getting back to the park after breakfast.  Jackson was barely tall enough to ride (like they measured him three different times), so he rode for the first time, while the rest of us had ridden during our last trip.  He did pretty well, but could not be convinced to go again later in the trip.  No way, no how.

During the planning of our trip, I pre-purchased PhotoPass+ for us to use while we were there.  PhotoPass is a card that you are given that the professional photographers will load their photos onto for you to view and possibly purchase later.  We had done it on other trips, but this new PhotoPass+ was, I think, an even better deal.  You can do all of the regular shots with photographers:

Including "Magic Shots" like this one:

And you can edit them, and add borders:

You also get your ride photos loaded onto it for free:
(Here we are on California Screamin')

But possibly the best part was that at any Character Meals, you get your Character photo loaded to the card and you get the hard copy photo package in a cute folder.

Plus, if there was a Disney photographer, I didn't have to worry about getting my camera out (score!)

and I found that I was actually *in* a lot more of the pictures of this vacation, because I wasn't always the one taking the picture!

Highly recommend that PhotoPass+.  And FastPass.  And Rider Switch, which we used for rides that Jackson was too short to go on, or even some that he just didn't want to go on.  It made it kind of nice actually, because it meant that I did a lot of hanging out with Jackson while everyone else went on the ride, and then someone else (usually lucky Hayley) got to ride a second time with me.  During one of the times we waited, Jackson and I saw Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  No line behind us, so they played for quite a bit.  Even if he wasn't totally into rides, this boy made up for it with how much he loved the characters.

In the evening we went to the Pixar Play Parade.  My mom was very nice to sit for a while and save us a prime seat on a bench along the parade route.  We love watching the parades at Disney, and this one had some fun new additions for the new Monsters University movie!

The last thing we did was stop by the Mad T Party concert.  This is a fun band based on the Alice in Wonderland characters.  They sing current and 80's and 90's hits and they are actually pretty good and very fun to listen to.  It was fun to watch the kids sing and dance along, as my mom, Whitney, and I watched and I'm pretty sure all thought the same thing: "How do you still have so much energy?!"  It's a never-ending mystery I tell you.